Bolger’s Corners

History of Ramsay...

Where Clayton Side Road meets Tatlock Rd is often referred to a Bolger’s Corners. On the southeast corner, the farm Bolger family in the area, William and Elizabeth Bolger and hence became known as Bolger’s Corners.

There was a little settlement in that area with the stores of John Bowes and John McWhinnie as well as the Reformed Presbyterian Church that was right at the corner, across the road from the Bolger farm.

The Methodist cemetery and site of the first Methodist Church is often considered to be part of Bolger’s Corner.

In 1841, John Bowes bought 4 acres of NE1/2 Lot 21 Conc 1 which was next to the Methodist cemetery.  He also operated the Post Office for a short time.  There was a slot in the door as a place to leave letters for mailing. Patrick Murray, a shoemaker, once lived there and shoe lasts were found when the house was torn down many years later.  In 1850, John Bowes sold his property and moved away.

In 1842, John McWhinnie bought a piece of land, part of Lot 21, Conc2, across the road from John Bowes.  He also operated a store amongst his many activities but in 1846 he declared bankruptcy, selling his place in 1850 and moving away.

The Reformed Presbyterian Church Clayton

From Whispers From The Past – History and Tales of Clayton by Rosemary Sarsfield

The beginning of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ramsay was through the efforts of William Moir and James Rae who were known to be preaching in 1823.  Soon Walter Gardner, John McEwen and James Smith were conducting a “Praying Society”. This Church had its roots in Scotland and was active in America.  In 1839 Rev James Mulligan Came from Ryegate, Vermont to preach.  He was followed by Robert McKee of New York and John Symmes.  Mr Mulligan organized a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church which continues to this day in the Almonte Reformed Presbyterian Church (Hillside Church).  This is the oldest Presbyterian congregation in Ramsay.

Locally, church buildings were built on the eighth line of Ramsay and on the second line of Ramsay. The one on the second line of Ramsay, a log building, was built in 1835. It was located just outside the present Clayton.  It was located on land occupied by James Smith in the 1829s (Lot 21, Conc 2). It was out of use at least by 1847. Concerning its construction, we read:

In those days money was scarce…yet churches were successfully built by division of labour, with very little money.  The walls and rafters were put i[ by combined effort. Certain persons made the shingles, other put them on.  One brought the boards, another laid the floor, and still another made the window frames and sash, and this the whole was easily accomplished.

As Rev Robert More, the Reformed Presbyterian minister, did his research in the 1970s on the properties he took out with him, a local older lady, Mrs Mary Morton, to examine the properties.  At the property in Clayton he noted:

Again, Mrs Morton has seen its ruin as a child.  A visit to the spot and a discovering of the old road bed showed that the building sat in the “T” of the road where it turns right to Clayton (from the present Clayton Road onto the Tatlock Road at Bolger’s Corners). The building sat lengthwise in the upper bar and in the left-hand side of the stem.  As late as 1880, the old gutted shell was yet observable, but today all trace has disappeared.

The Methodist Church Cemetery in Clayton

Extracts from The Record News – EMC, Friday, October 13, 2000 written by Dianne Pinder.

Officially registered on Saturday, Aug. 27, 1853 “at half past ten of the clock in the forenoon,” the cemetery was also home to the Methodist Church until it burned in 1879 or 1880. The brick house across from St. George’s Church was built as a replacement in 1880 with worship being held there until the 1920s when the Methodists in Canada joined with some of the Presbyterians to form the United Church.  Some of the stones from the original foundation of the church remain in the cemetery. The old cemetery fell into neglect and until recently, the Clayton Methodist Cemetery was nothing but brambles, its headstones as forgotten as the memories of those buried there.  Thanks to the efforts of two local churches, Guthrie United and St. George’s Anglican – the cemetery has now been restored. The two churches worked together on Saturdays to undo the years of neglect at the tiny cemetery near Bolger’s Corners.  It was an intensive undertaking with the dedicated volunteers spending many hours just clearing the massive amounts of brush.  “It took us about seven Saturdays to just clear the brush, to cut it,” says Scotty McAskill, who has been one of the “mainstays” of the restoration project.  That task was made even more difficult by the fact some of the wire from the old wire fence in front of the cemetery had grown into the trees. The fence was removed with the brush.  Once that work was complete, the ground on which the cemetery is situated was leveled off. Charlie Rath, who attends, St. George’s church, donated all the fill for the project.  Work was done on cleaning up the headstones and setting the bases back into the ground. Since there is no plot plan for the cemetery, the tombstones were placed “where they are.” Only nine of the original 12 headstones could be located It is feared a couple may have been stolen.  Other stones from the property were added to the stones from the original foundation them to “make an imprint” of where the church was. A plaque was also erected at the location.  A visit to the cemetery is a trip into history. Among those whose names appear on headstones is Edward Bellamy, the founder of Clayton.  The cemetery was also the burial place for a veteran of the War of 1812, James McNiece. Mr. McNiece, who died on Nov. 21, 1850, fought in some of the war’s famous battles – Lundy’s Lane, Sacketts Harbour, Snake Hill and Cook’s Mills. More than 30 years after the war ended, he was credited in 1847 with making a citizen’s arrest of a deserter from the war and taking a reward for turning in the former soldier, Mr. McNiece was given 500 Pound Sterling. “You could write a book on him,” Mr. McAskill says.  And on the cemetery as a whole, as the headstones tell much about the hardships of the early settlers who inhabited this area from the three members of the Cunningham family who fell victim to scarlet fever in a one-month period in 1877 to Sophy McClary who was less than a year old when she died in 1864. Her sister Irena, who was born in December, 1865, only lived for three months.  The restoration project was undertaken in thanksgiving “for the faith, dedication and perseverance” of the early settlers of Clayton.